Directed by Matt Winn. UK. 2006.

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This British production is the story about a group of (late) thirtysomethings who have a New Year's reunion party to meet up and how this reunion conjures up all kinds of emotions in the forms of jealousy and underlying tension. 

The film is unlike the usual reunion films such as The Big Chill or Peter's Friends where it has stereotypical characters who do not know what to do with themselves, third wheels to the real couples of the film and them lost in a non-descript location in the form of a country manor, here this film has a wonderful location shoot in Wales.  And in this instance the characters are not stereotypical but just maligned manifestations of the 1990s stereotypes they were and how out of step they look in the 21st century.  Like most reunions, it is a bunch of characters seeking one last hurrah of their glory days, drink a lot, smoke a lot and dance to the dance music of their era, the soundtrack is composed of that music which fits the characters as it reflects a bygone era. 

The location I mentioned earlier is vital, because had it been set in London (it would have cost more obviously) the relationships would have been different as there would have been more of a familiarity about the characters, but because the solid couple of Claire and Adam live so far away, there is this apparent distance between them all. 

The film has a three act structure - the first act is how they meet up at Adam and Claire's home, secondly is the start of the party and the aftermath of it and finally finishing off with the overall feeling of January 2nd, the day when you realise your hopes and dreams have been dashed and that nothing has changed.  And this is the clever thing of the script, although my production notes say it is set over New Years', to my mind this could have been any party weekend and January 2nd is when you wake up on Sunday afternoon knowing the party is over for another week.  Here the actors help by playing their characters with their flaws to the fore and with them knowing that not a lot will change over the weekend. 

Unlike most reunion films which ere on the side of sentimentality and the needed or required happy ending, January 2nd goes for the ending that is faithful to the characters and all that has gone before. 

And the film is funny based on the characterisations and the banter between them.  Never will you hear the line, 'For god sakes, put down the angle grinder', it made me laugh out loud and the best scene is the well conceived one when the misogynistic Sean (Che Walker, brilliantly off his head) after being hit on the head has to talk to Jodie (the daughter of his best friends) about sex and how he just ends it by falling backwards to sleep 

January 2nd is a well conceived film in the best intentions of independent cinema but definitely of the British persuasion.  Tighly directed, well acted, neatly shot with some beautiful shots of the Welsh countryside and a pleasure to watch. 

For more information on the film, which is opening the KIEV Film Festival, please go to www.january2ndthemovie.com 

Jamie Garwood
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